From the Story Arc: The Dish Best Served Cold

Next Story in the Arc: Remembering April by Khrushchev (Thursday, September 08, 2005)

(posted Tuesday, August 30, 2005)

Khrushchev sat in the pew of an unfamiliar church on a dark, sultry afternoon attending the funeral of his one love. Rather than walk down to the front row of the Cathedral, which was reserved for family members, Khrushchev had chosen a bench halfway down the aisle, hoping to grieve and reflect in anonymity.

The church looked so beautiful, decorated with red and white flowers. Their scent reminded him of her and the memorable times they had spent together. He remembered her eyes, large and green, and how his heart would race when he caught her looking at him. Khrushchev recollected idyllic, joyful moments back then. They would dash around, shouting and playing. He had promised they would be friends forever – that they would be with each other for all the years to come.

Khrushchev’s eyes welled as he stared at her coffin lying at the front of the grand sanctuary. A lifetime without her, he thought, as the large gathering of friends and family found their way into the church. A single tear streaked his cheek and the breath caught in his throat like a half-chewed piece of meat swallowed too soon, as he tried to fight back the emotion he felt.

The funeral went on and Khrushchev was still paying attention only to his thoughts. "What will I do now when I find myself in trouble?" he asked himself. "I will never find another shoulder to cry on. How empty my days will be without her smile. How will I get through my days without you? I'm unprotected now."

But now, he'd have to face this existence, whether he wanted to or not. Why had God taken them away? "Oh, God, you're not what people crack you up to be! I needed her, you know I did," He whispered. "I’m afraid to be mad at You, God. You will castigate me sooner or later, yet I can’t contain my thoughts. Didn’t you see I needed them? Why did you take them away from me so young? Why, why? You forgot me, and they say you never forget us. Their job here wasn’t finished…it wasn’t!"

Khrushchev found it hard to listen to one word the priest said at the funeral. He did not even care about the songs he had asked to be sung at his funeral. He sat there accusing both himself and God for their death.

“Perhaps it was my fault that they had lost their life. It was my fault!” Khrushchev thought to himself as he clenched his hands and placed them over his sorrowed eyes.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever”.

He paused a moment in reflection, then continued. “All we can do is believe. Have faith. We must know that this lovely child of God has gone to a better life. A life free of pain. A life free of suffering. For Jesus told us to enter our Father’s house and we would enjoy eternal life. Life everlasting. Regardless of the ordeals they endured in their shortened lifetime, they have left them behind forever. We mustn’t attempt to make sense of their death, but instead, we should celebrate their rebirth.”

A quiet ‘Amen’ came from the sea of black suits and dresses surrounded him. Many wept as the last bouquets were laid on the wooden caskets.

The service was short. Beyond the traditional sentiments, there was little to be said, not that anyone did not have something to say but it was too difficult to put it into words. Khrushchev sat silently until the last few guests had left, then watched as workers moved the three coffins out the back doors to the waiting hearse parked behind the church. As the group dispersed he rose to come face to face with the priest.

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” said Father Harris, “but, I saw you sitting here and thought you might want to join us for the graveside services”.

“Yes, of course”.

“I wish there was more we could do…”

“You’ve done plenty.” Khrushchev paused, “Father, I also want to thank you for your kind words today. I found incredible solace in them.”

At the Grave Site

Rain fell. It was a fall rain, cold and chilling to the touch. Falling on still-warm earth from the recently departed summer breezes, it brought a gentle mist. It was a final reminder from Lady Summer who was reluctant to let loose her hold.

The tapping of the rain against the coffin as it sat nestled by the sea, secluded and tucked into a dune, stirred Khrushchev's thoughts. He looked through the grayness. The ocean was a deep, dark shade of green, mirroring the color of her eyes.

How he admired her. She was a paradox -- strong yet soft, hard yet gentle. Her long strawberry-golden hair flowed from the top of her head in three tresses, down across the shoulders of the hooded robe she wore.

A choked laugh mingled with a sob broke from his lips. Khrushchev pressed his face down next to hers. He desperately tried to gain strength from her, but she was lost to this world, this time, and he knew it. He drew from within himself what little strength he could.

"Whatever it takes, My Love, I will not let your death go, I will find them---they will pay for your death." His brown eyes bore deeply into her green and sparkled for a moment, but only for a moment. Then they closed. He placed his lips over hers, and breathed her in, weeping uncontrollably when no more came.

To be continued…